Former deputy news editor, News of the World
Polly Hepburn, who has died at the tragically young age of 57, was a star of the generation of bright young journalists to come out of the Northeast in the 1970s.
A lively, blonde Lancashire girl with bright blue eyes, she met her husband Ian in Newcastle, where she worked on the South Shields Gazette.
They moved to Birmingham where she joined the Post and soon became chief crime reporter, firmly debunking the notion still prevalent at the time that women didn’t handle hard news.
She made that doubly clear with her characteristically professional coverage of the IRA pub bombings which devastated the city centre in 1974, and the subsequent trial.
It did not take her long to move to Fleet Street and the News of the World, where she blossomed, getting the inside stories, with her own lively brand of skill, charm and humour, of the late ’70s and early ’80s.
It was Polly who told the terrible
innocent Irish girl whose terrorist lover put her and their unborn baby with a bomb on an El Al flight from Heathrow.
When a soldier foiled an assassination attempt on the Queen at the Trooping the Colour, it was Polly who cut through the confusion and tracked him down for an exclusive page-one article.
As deputy news editor, she handled calmly and firmly some of the major news stories of her time: the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise, the NoW coverage of which was warmly praised by other media.
Polly went on to work for Sunday Magazine, Today, the Sunday Mirror, and to run her own news agency, HM Press.
She was a warm, caring friend, a helpful and loyal colleague and always good company, whatever the circumstances.
She was also a wonderful wife to Ian and mother to Andrew, Laura and Robbie.